I went to my first festival recently. I'm 35 and until this year I had never been to a festival. This one was a wonderful celebration of African music (I'm told it is the largest in the UK) and it was just fabulous. I went with my husband and the kids and some of our friends. We didn't plan it at all. Our friends mentioned they were going, my husband had heard about it too. So off we went.
We rocked up to the event with just ourselves, a changing bag, some sun cream and some cash to buy food. We just about managed, but looking around at the other festival-goers, including our friends, there was some pretty impressive preparation going on. People had equipment ranging from your basic picnic blanket to a full-on gazebo-with-bbq set up. It was pretty awesome. There was a massive stage, a fun fair, loads of stalls, more food than you could wish for, random speakers dotted about the site playing a mix of music and being guarded by mysterious dancing people who looked achingly cool and appeared not to notice anyone around them. The sun came out and it was just a perfect day. The only downside was the toilets but, as my husband kept telling me when I was cursing my lack of alcohol gel, that's festivals for you.
So, first festival. Done. And it was lovely. And I would do it again. Except, this was a day-festival and didn't require me to stay over. I think the proper staying-over type festivals are still not for me. I've never been drawn to them. They never grabbed me. Muddiness, trendy wellies, going to horrible toilets all weekend, not showering, and probably not sleeping. I only saw these bad bits. But I have always been in awe of the people who go to the festivals and get totally and utterly lost in them. The sort of people who end up in the PR photos - stuck in the mud, with their hot-pant shorts and trendy wellies, trying to push a shopping trolley full of their things whilst some friendly Police person helps them. But, for all my secret longing to be like them, I just don't have the natural coolness in me to be able to shrug off all the bad bits off in the name of music appreciation.
In the last couple of years though, I've had a sort of rebirth. Now, don't get me wrong, I've not suddenly signed up for a summer of festivalness. But, I have discovered that festivals attended from the comfort of my sofa are something I can cope with. My husband thinks it is hilarious (he is somebody who did the festivals very well in his youth so he can sit up on a high horse and chortle away at me). He laughs at my new obsession when 'big' festivals begin, when I have to set the highlights to record so I can watch them whilst I'm clean, warm, dry and rested in the comfort of my living room. I might even have a hot chocolate whilst I'm watching. I will definitely wear my comfy trousers. I will appreciate the music and for just a little while, I will pretend I'm that little bit of festival-cool.
The highlights from this year's Glastonbury are safely on my YouView box. I watched the first bit of Adele's set with the kids (fast-forwarding the blue language of course) and it was fantastic. I have a hunch though that in the future, the kids will become real-life festival-goers. Not like me. I think I will stick to being an armchair festival appreciator but every now and then venture out to a local festival - but only as long as I get to come home at night, have my bath and put on my coat of home comforts again. Bliss.
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